We (organisations listed) have observed the increasing flood ravaging many parts of the country, particularly in Kogi State where one hundred and sixty communities are submerged underwater because Niger and Benue rivers broke their banks from shedding of excess water from Lagdo Dam in Cameroon. Kogi’s worst hit district, Ibaji is 100% under water, with 3 deaths recorded and about 50,000 people now in displacement. Consequently, communities in Anambra, Delta, Bayelsa and other states are now terribly affected, leading to a rise in the number of displaced persons. In a statement released on 11th October 2022, Dr Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, said flooding in the country has now affected the lives of 1.4 million people and displaced 790,254. Over 600 deaths have also been recorded across the country.
In Anambra, 14,000 people across 8 local councils have been displaced and death toll as of 14th October had risen to 17. Jigawa, Kebbi and Bayelsa states have also recorded varied number of deaths arising from the flood while Kano, Kaduna, Niger, Benue, Adamawa, Taraba, Bauchi, Yobe, Edo, Delta, Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti and Plateau are also badly hit.
Twenty-seven local government areas in Jigawa State are affected, albeit to various degrees. About 110,000 people are estimated to be affected with 92 deaths recorded according to SEMA. The loss also includes damage to houses, livestock, and farmlands amounting to over 1.5 billion Naira. Schools and health-care centers have been affected too, with many of them flooded and others taken over by displaced persons.
The floods are coming amidst concerns that 19.4 million Nigerians across 21 States and FCT could face food insecurity starting from August 2022 as revealed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation. In addition, the World Bank's forecasts 95.1million Nigerians hitting the poverty line by the end of 2022. The on-going floods exacerbates the situation as Nigeria continues to face daily loss of farmlands, produce, livestock and livelihoods. The biggest rice farm in Nasarawa State was reported to be submerged in floodwaters resulting in
multimillion-naira loss and an additional 361,000 persons across two local government in the Nasarawa State have lost livelihoods and been severely affected. 10 communities and farmlands in Edo State have also been washed away by the devastating flood and 33 others in Imo State are affected because of the over-flowing of Oguta lake and other rivers. This continued loss will heighten these statistics.
The state of the nation is a dire and a call for concern.
With thirty-one States and the FCT affected by the flood, it is time for Government at all levels (federal, state and LGA) to explore sustainable ways to curb the perennial flooding that some states are increasingly experiencing during the rainy season. A repeat of this in 2023 when households, Farmers and States would still be in recovery process could be catastrophic as this would heighten pre-existing food insecurity, poverty and increase the number of out of school children, especially girls who in such circumstances suffer early and forced marriage and other forms of gender based violence . Significantly, there is a link between the increasing flood incidences and climate change with its continued annual loss of lives, property, farmland, and infrastructure (including, roads, culverts, bridges, homes, and livelihoods.
Whilst, we commend the current response by the federal and subnational governments, National and State Emergency Management Agencies, and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs & Disaster Management and Social Development, to the situation, particularly with the immediate provision of survival kits, food, and non-food items, we believe more can be done for the affected communities and the states in the longer term.
Despite timely rainfall forecasts by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, integrated, simple and context-based communication remains a major gap in mitigating the effects of the floods. Integration and coordination among existing flood control government agencies is limited
Therefore, INGOs are calling for:
- Declaration of a state of emergency on the flood by the Federal and affected state governments.
- Launch immediate life saving measures by stepping up the search and rescue efforts to ensure that trapped communities are immediately evacuated.
- With the current deplorable state of affected populations, we call upon government to prioritize the provision of emergency assistance to persons displaced and living in various displaced camps and host communities. This would include providing food assistance, non-food items, protection for women and girls etc.
- Promote awareness on sanitation and preventive measures to curb a possible outbreak of waterborne index diseases like Cholera amongst others.
- Immediate provision of education in emergency situations to minimise the negative impact of flooding on children’s studies.
In the medium to long term, it is important for the:
- Integration of flood risk management with spatial planning and immediate humanitarian coordination fora in affected states to avoid duplication of responses.
- Introduce or adapt community surveillance and early warning systems on flood prevention and mitigation, to prepare for hazardous climate-related events.
- Prioritize issues of climate change by increasing funding for agro-ecology and creating awareness to reduce the impact of climate change.
- Implement interventions that support families and communities to recover their losses.
- The establishment of proper water channels – avoid blocking waterways and ultimately encourage river dredging in the relevant states.
- Increased provision of food, temporary shelter, and hygiene/medical attention to affected communities.
- Sustained investment in infrastructure, particularly in building of climate-smart buffer dams to effectively contain excess water spills from Lagdo dam and construction of elevated bridges in places like Koton-karfi and Lokoja to prevent commuters from being stranded in future for Kogi being a nodal state.
Addressing Nigeria’s perennial flooding is important for the country to make progress. The human-induced causes of flooding must be purposely addressed without further delay. Failure to do this will halt our journey to prosperity because out of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, nine are directly impacted by flooding. These include good health & wellbeing, life on land, clean water & sanitation, sustainable cities and communities, eradicating poverty and hunger as well as providing clean water and sanitation etc. Flooding has badly impacted our development agenda in relation to the socio-economic and environmental targets.
In conclusion, humanitarian work is about saving lives, providing basic needs, services, and protecting people's rights. Now is the time for Government Stakeholders, Corporate Organisations, Civil Society Organisations, and individuals to prioritise emergency response to people and States affected by floods across the country.
Ene Obi, Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria.
Hussaini Abdu PhD. Country Director CARE International
Usie Charles Emmamuzou, Country Director Plan International Nigeria
Tope Fashola, Country Director Christian Aid